Topic 3 Social & cultural learning in Cyprus: traditions, local values, linguistic specificities

  • This topic focuses on the social and cultural learning of Cyprus
  • It aims to give useful insight into the core traditions of the host country that can affect the working environment
  • A lot of these may pose as potential cultural barriers for someone who is not familiar with the local culture, but awareness will help overcome these challenges
  • Contact, interaction and networking with local people further enhances the possibility of getting to know the country and its values and traditions, and expanding your network

Cyprus traditions

  • Cypriots are known for their warm hospitality and for “treating” guests with home-made food and sweets, also known as “kerasma”
  • This might be because of the warm climate, the sun, and the fact that Cyprus is a tourist destination and locals interact with foreigners a lot
  • In Cyprus, there is the habit of locals greeting everyone they meet on the street, even if they don’t know this person at all! Upon your first meetings with Cypriots, you will see them smile broadly and say “Ya su,” meaning “Hello” in modern Greek, or, literally, “wish you good health”! A very nice and hospitable way to greet a stranger!

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  • Cypriots are chatty people, in a good way. The majority of locals are fluent in English, since Cyprus used to be a British colony, so you will enjoy learning about life in Cyprus directly from them.
  • They might even offer to buy you coffee at the traditional coffee shops, a polite gesture that Cypriots call “kerasma” and love to make pretty frequently. And, of course, “kerasma” paves the way for even more conversations!

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The official languages of the island are Greek and Turkish, whilst English is widely spoken. French, German and Russian are also spoken within the tourism industry. Verbally, Cypriots speak the Cypriot dialect which differs a bit from standard modern Greek, mainly in the pronunciation. There are no classes offered to learn the Greek Cypriot dialect, but you can learn it with practice!

Many Cypriots are religious, and they take religion very seriously. While the majority of Greek-Cypriots are Greek Orthodox Christians, other denominations are represented on the island, including Armenians, Maronites and Roman Catholics. The Turkish-Cypriot community is predominantly Muslim.

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In Cyprus, when is one’s birthday, that person is “unofficially expected” to bring “kerasma” to others in the workplace, or school, etc. This indicates a celebration of birthdays with sweet treats, something that goes hand-in-hand in Cyprus!

The same goes for name days. Children are typically named after the Patron Saint of their region. The Name Day is the feast day of the saint after whom a child was named. The tradition is for a party to be thrown on the person’s Name Day. A barbeque and buffet at the house are usually prepared, and there is lots of singing, dancing, and drinking. The person celebrating their name day is also expected to bring some treats in their workplace on that day!

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Cyprus Information Guide for Third Country Nationals (TCNs)

  • The Cyprus Guide is composed of thematic units providing information covering all aspects of daily life in Cyprus in order to support the integration of TCNs and their participation in the economic, social and cultural life of the island.
  • It is available English and in different languages (Arabic, Filippino, Russian, Sinhala, Tamil) covering the main mother tongues of TCNs in Cyprus.
  • You can find the Guide here.